A word about labels

We do love labels, don’t we?  Or rather sometimes I think we have a love/hate relationship with them.  Especially when it comes to our children.  We label them athletes, we label them gifted & talented, we label them ADD, we label them honor roll, we label them gamers.

Do we stop and think what these labels do to their self-confidence or to their psyche?

Fat? Skinny? Tall? Short?  Blonde?  Masculine? Feminine?

Why do we need these labels?  And the schools play along, or sometimes lead the parade.

Why is it acceptable for them to call one program the “Gifted & Talented Program” but another program for kids who don’t meet the criteria for that one, could they call it the “Ungifted & Untalented Program”?  No, that wouldn’t be PC.

Does the kid who makes it into the advanced program feel superior? Or do they feel pressure?

I don’t have solutions, or answers, this post is simply a rant, or maybe it’s the opening up of a discussion.  Why do we need to label our kids? Why do we need to label ourselves? Why do we need labels at all?

5 Comments on A word about labels

  1. Amber Day Hicks
    November 20, 2013 at 11:52 AM (5 months ago)

    I completely agree, here’s my thing, (I’m stating this for all of your readers- you my darlin’ know this) I’m 96% ADHD, tested as an adult, which apparently is a difficult feat in NC but I also tested high IQ as a teen in school & never needed meds, but, didn’t finish college, why? because I was never challenged in school or taught to study, so, that being said, my child was tested this summer & diagnosed for ADD, I thought she was going to fail 3rd grade, her teacher kept saying she won’t pay attention but she’s not ADD, I told her teacher I respected her opinion & I would follow her evaluation but she was wrong & she was getting tested before 4th grade, now, all A’s except 1 B in reading- why? She says “it’s not interesting” I say suck it up & bring that grade to an A or no Christmas, she’s reading on 6th grade level in 4th grade, remember, she almost FAILED 3rd…

    All this being said, ADD/ADHD diagnosed people are some of the most brilliant people in society & I’m on a Sheldon Cooper tangent, aren’t I??? Should I just go sit in my spot on my couch (which my child had the audcity to sit in this morning… what???)

  2. Allie
    November 20, 2013 at 2:48 PM (5 months ago)

    You definitely have me thinking here. My kids are only 4 so I have yet to venture into too much of label-land BUT, when I was pregnant with the twins, there was a lot of talk about NOT labeling them and treating them as individuals and not making comparisons, etc. It’s not always easy but usually labels are not helpful for self-esteem.

  3. Eli@coachdaddy
    November 21, 2013 at 9:26 AM (5 months ago)

    We need labels. Think about cooking with no labels on your spice rack. Sure, you might be able to do it, but there’s the risk you’ll use cream of tartar and not baking powder (or is that just me?)

    The difference is how we treat these labels. They can help identify (outgoing, energetic, contemplative) traits within our kids, and give them ownership. We shouldn’t, though, try and limit them with labels (perpetually late, not good in math, shy).

    Some labels can signal to a child we see limits to their potential. Others show we see something in them they can further develop. It’s our jobs as parents to know the difference.

    • Amber Day Hicks
      November 21, 2013 at 12:11 PM (5 months ago)

      Eli@coachdaddy- you just made my point precisely!!! Thank You!!! Just when the school system shoved my brother in the mentally uncapable classes because of his ADD label… Do you know what his career is now? He’s a store manager for an electric supply company chain (the only store in the city) & he’s 28 years old. The school district deemed him unfit to handle standard studies due to his ADD label, is my only point, we need to make sure this diagnosis isn’t given to kids who are just being lazy and want to play video games (with parents who aren’t parenting) & teachers are being trained to handle as well as parents know how to fight for their children. I know their are people like me who are treated for ADD/ADHD & need to be & their children need to be, we’re the ones that are constantly fighting because of the people commiting fraud claims of ADD/ADHD & they are giving us a horrible reputation. Thank you Eli for your honest & brutal statement, I so appreciate it & I’m going to follow your blog. Happy Thursday.

  4. Catherine Gacad
    November 27, 2013 at 12:44 AM (5 months ago)

    hmmm, i don’t really think there’s any way around it. this post made me think beyond labeling and simply boxing children into certain stereotypes. so if you have girls, then they of course play with dolls. or do you dismiss this as a type of ‘label’ or ‘stereotype’ and have them play with gender-neutral toys and gravitate towards what they genuinely prefer. instead of clothing girls in dresses and boys in overalls, do you try to mix it up so they aren’t always in pink versus blue. i guess all of that can be construed as a type of labeling. and if you were against labeling, then you would try to be blind in all aspects of raising your children. simply playing devil’s advocate and trying to think of different scenarios!


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